Remembering Riley Hannah Sandler
We want to first, thank the overwhelming number of parents who wrote to us and called to offer support, condolences and just beautifully kind words. Camp is supposed to be the happiest of places. It is where children come to make friends and become more confident. The tragic loss of Riley Sandler has effected so many of our campers and camp families. It has torn apart a valuable friendship with this beautiful “magical” little girl and it has shaken people’s confidence in the safety and well-being of their children in this special place. No one could have imagined such an excellent summer ending this way.
Numbers of parents have contacted us and we have made available our crisis counselors to help both parents and their children. We urge you to consider doing so, should you feel the need. It helps. You are not on your own in dealing at home with this terrible tragedy from camp. We are here for you and we want you to know that.
Yesterday we attended Riley’s funeral in New York City along with the sad events that necessarily follow. As you can imagine, it was the most difficult day of our lives, yet it paled in comparison to what Riley’s parents, Ian and Mackenzie, had to endure. Ian gave a most magnificent tribute to his daughter. He remarked that “Riley did not like camp – she LOVED camp.” He spoke at length about what camp had meant for her and for them as her parents. Throughout this ordeal, their warm embrace and the continuous comfort that they have provided for the two of us has been extraordinary. This terrible tragedy has brought our two families together and we will never cease in our efforts to remember Riley and honor her life by making something good out of something terribly bad.
Ian and Mackenzie have already established a memorial fund to spearhead their life’s mission to both remember Riley and do great things for children. At their request, we will serve on the Board with them and the fund has already passed into the six figures – a tribute to the love Riley engendered. To further help the healing, they have created an email address for friends to send their photos and remembrances of Riley so that they can keep and cherish those memories forever. The email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
We will all get through this. As a camp family, and, for our part, our family, we will help the Sandlers get through this as well. While for all of us here at Timber Lake, it is very dim right now, we know that the sun will shine again.
Again, thanks for your wonderful outpouring of support for the Sandler family.
Jay and Mindy